Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is pictured on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-9. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
- The Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals in a Week 17 matchup with a playoff berth on the line
- LA will be without Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson and Michael Brockers
- The Rams won the first meeting between the teams by a score of 38-28
The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams will square off in a Week 17 showdown where a playoff spot will be on the line. The winner will qualify for the postseason while the loser will see their season end. The plot thickens here as the Rams are going to be without several starters on offense. Does that mean the Cardinals are the best bet in this matchup?
Cardinals vs Rams Odds
|Arizona Cardinals||-180||-3.5 (-110)||Over 40.5 (-112)|
|Los Angeles Rams||+152||+3.5 (-110)||Under 40.5 (-108)|
All odds as of Jan 1 at FanDuel
Rams Are Missing Several Key Starters
The Rams head into Week 17 as the No. 6 seed in the NFC. A win gets them into the playoffs but if they can pull that off, they’re going to have to do it minus a number of key starters on the offensive side of the ball. To start, quarterback Jared Goff, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, running back Darrell Henderson and defensive lineman Michael Brockers are all out.
To put that in perspective, the Rams are going to be without their leading passer, rusher and receiver. Beyond that, rookie running back Cam Akers – who has contributed quite a bit recently – is questionable and linebacker Leonard Floyd is uncertain too.
Rams’ QB Jared Goff underwent surgery today on his broken right thumb in LA and is unlikely to play Sunday vs. Arizona, sources tell ESPN. If he can’t play Sunday, Goff could return for the playoffs if Rams advance there.
John Wolford is Goff’s backup and now in line to start.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2020
Goff seems to be the biggest loss here as it will force the Rams to start John Wolford, who will become the first quarterback ever to make his first start in a regular season finale with major playoff implications. Wolford led the XFL in passing touchdowns – while the league lasted – so he has shown some level of competence. Who knows how that will translate to the NFL, though.
Cardinals Banged Up But Healthy Enough
Early in the week, it looked like the Cardinals might also be without several key starters as quarterback Kyler Murray was a question mark and wideout DeAndre Hopkins was in that grey zone as well. On Wednesday, Murray said that he’s good to go while Hopkins returned to practice in limited form on Thursday.
Larry Fitzgerald (groin) did not practice again on Thursday. DeAndre Hopkins (hip), Budda Baker (neck) and Haason Reddick (hip) were limited.
— Alex Weiner (@alexjweiner) January 1, 2021
The Cardinals are not out of the woods yet, though, as they have other concerns. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald and running back Chase Edmonds are both game-time decisions. Although some or all of these players might play, it’s quite clear that this offense is far from being fully healthy. The team also has questions on defense as Budda Baker also hadn’t practiced late into the week.
What’s The Best Bet?
The general mindset here might be that the Rams are going to be too shorthanded to compete here but that might not be the case. The Cardinals just aren’t a very good team – especially on the road.
Arizona is just 3-5 over their last eight games and one win was the Hail Murray against the Buffalo Bills and then two other wins were against NFC East teams. In that span, they have losses to New England, San Francisco and the Rams.
While it’s tough to lay money on Wolford, if quarterbacks like CJ Beathard, Cam Newton and rookies Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa can feast on this defense, Wolford should be able to do enough here as well. The Rams should find a way to keep this close and cover – even if they lose by a small margin.
The Pick: Rams +3.5 (-110), 1 Unit
For over 15 years, Dave has been working in mainstream media and sports betting. He hosted a station on Sirius Satellite Radio for four years, and is currently a senior writer for AskMen. He’s interviewed hundreds of hundreds of high-profile sports stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Floyd Mayweather.